Since this is my last week in the Philippines I think it would be a good time to reflect on my experiences here. I don’t think I can accurately describe how much I have loved being in the Philippines. I’ve never felt so attached to somewhere other than my home.
I loved getting to know a new culture. I have learned about how much Filipinos value their time with others. This is especially true on the farm. It’s not just a simple hello as I walk by someone. It turns into a full conversation and the people are genuinely interesting in hearing what you say. I have learned that food is the best way to get to know people. Some of the best conversations happen over dinner. I didn’t think I would, but I will miss the food. I love the fish, chicken adobo, tortalong, fresh fruit, banana que and ube!
Photo: Dinner at Tita Maricel’s house
I feel that I have learned so much more about myself as well. I feel I have grown more confident in myself, strengthened some values, learned some new values, and become more open-minded.
Another huge part of my experience here is that I have become more environmentally aware. The environment is something that is talked about in the United States, but ways to help the environment, I don’t think, is widely practiced. Here it is becoming a major way of life. I have come to hate plastic. It pains me to use it. When I get back to the United States I know my waste habits are going to change. I think this has had the biggest impact on me.
Photo: Interns, featuring Ammy!
The hardest part about leaving will be leaving the people. The MAD travel people are some of the greatest people I’ve ever meet. They are so passionate about their work and helping others. Every time I talked with Raf and Tom I could hear their passion for their work seeping through. They put their heart and soul into their work and they are truly making a difference. They have inspired me to make a difference in my life. I loved working with Andrea, Trix and AM. They were some of my regular go-to people at work. Every time I saw them we had a good time, laughing and joking around. Max, a french intern at MAD, has been here as long as I have. I would have had a completely different experience here without him and I’ll miss him a ton too.
Photo: MAD Travel Team
I’ve met a lot of interns on the farm that I will be sad to say goodbye to. They made me look at the world through the eyes of business. I’ve learned about social enterprises and about some of the inspiring stories of enterprises on the farm. At one point in my stay I had to interview some interns for a video and they talked about why they have stayed so long in the Philippines. It always comes back to the great people they have met on the farm. Any community member will take you in and feed you.
Photo: Group picture of all the farm interns
All you have to do is ask. Tito June is one of those people. He always has people over at his house. I will miss his endless jokes and singing in the living room of his house. I will miss Tita Maricel and her wonderful cooking. I will miss Ammy, a Filipino intern from Mindanao, who has become a good friend that I will have to visit one day. I could go on and on about all the people and things I’m going to miss because there is just so many. I will forever be grateful for this summer. I know I will be back sooner than I think.